From red to blue: the seven shifts in Manchester power
Apr 30, 2012: Mancini squares up to Ferguson
The fear that Ferguson commanded often extended to his peers and afforded him impunity to harangue officials without challenge or complaint from the rival dugout. It was a luxury the great don rarely wasted, and with his side a goal down and a 13th league title slipping from his grasp, he duly strayed from the technical area, incensed at a late challenge by Nigel de Jong on Danny Welbeck.
It must have been quite a shock for him to be so forcibly confronted by a fellow manager – so often sycophants or former players under his charge. But this was Roberto Mancini, a man whose fiery temper equalled that of Fergie’s and someone capable of eliciting discord in an empty lift.
For a surreal few moments the events on the pitch became a sideshow to the sight of a knight of the realm being reduced to a touchline spat. While fourth official Mike Jones faced the unenviable task of separating the pair, Mancini gesticulated with his hand indicating his opposite number was talking too much.
Ferguson, for his part, skulked away, his chewing gum switched for a handful of wasps.
Sep 22, 2013: The not unexpected 4-1
Considering the undeniable gulf in class between both clubs from 2008 back to the introduction of the Premier League and beyond, Manchester City still boast a reasonable record in derby games of yore.
Yet each draw was scrapped for with an underdog’s tenacity, and any victory entirely due to playing above themselves and wanting it more on the day.
Here, though, for the first time in living memory, was a complete role-reversal: a City side that started as clear favourites and lived comfortably up to their billing as the superior XI.
With David Moyes’ United hinting heavily at the crisis that was to come, City tore them apart, administering a thrashing that could have been plentiful more had the hosts not stepped off the gas.
Still adapting – or not – to life after Fergie, the visitors looked uncharacteristically ordinary with City inventive, ruthless and gleefully exposing the flaws.
The much-anticipated duel of Yaya Toure vs Marouane Fellaini was a hopeless mismatch, while all day long Aguero tortured the ageing limbs of Rio Ferdinand. It bordered on the cruel.
Such one-sided Blue victories used to be very few and far between and were dutifully put into song and legend. Now they were becoming the norm and that – perhaps more than any other aspect of City’s rise – has been the most extraordinary thing of all.